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I Can’t Believe People Tell Sex Workers to “Go to the Police” If They’ve Been Raped

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A Few Thoughts About Stoya, James Deen, and the Rape Allegations Made on Social Media

by Mistress Matisse

deen

The law does not give a shit about sex workers. Neither do many people on Twitter.

On November 28, writer, director, and porn actress Stoya fired off two tweets that would upend the porn world.

@Stoya: “That thing where you log in to the internet for a second and see people idolizing the guy who raped you as a feminist. That thing sucks… James Deen held me down and fucked me while I said no, stop, used my safeword. I just can’t nod and smile when people bring him up anymore.”

Stoya was talking about her former partner, James Deen—the adult-video-industry icon, he of the boyish good looks and crossover media fame, whose swooning female fan base dubbed him “the feminist porn star.”

Deen was silent for a day and then posted to Twitter: “There have been some egregious claims made against me… I want to assure my friends, fans, and colleagues that these allegations are both false and defamatory… I respect women and I know and respect limits both professionally and privately.” He then went silent until earlier this week, when he gave an exclusive interview to the Daily Beast denying all allegations. He has not replied to a request for comment from The Stranger.

I believe Stoya. Unpleasant stories about Deen have circulated in the sex-work community since well before they were a couple, and in the days following her tweets, nine other women also came forward to say that Deen has assaulted them. One of the women, Joanna Angel, was in a relationship with him for six years. Their stories don’t sound like descriptions of misunderstandings or moments of bad judgement. They sound like persistently abusive behavior, dating back nearly 10 years in Deen’s life. I believe all of them.

However, one development of all this did pleasantly surprise me: Major porn companies responded swiftly to the womens’ allegations. Shortly after the allegations began coming out, major porn studios Kink.com and Evil Angel announced they would no longer work with Deen, effective immediately. Other adult businesses that had connections with Deen also distanced themselves, and non-porn website The Frisky dropped Deen’s sex-advice column from its site. In a matter of days, James Deen went from being the golden boy of porn to probably unemployable in the industry.

Of course, there was a backlash. Any allegation of sexual assault invariably brings forth strident deniers, and this was catnip for whorephobes. But it wasn’t just people accusing the women of “lying” and “slander.” One person replied to Stoya’s original tweet with “Rape a whore? Isn’t that just shoplifting?”

Defending a man accused of rape by calling his accuser a “whore” is especially irksome when that man is himself a sex worker. But there’s another reaction that bothers me, not only from outsiders, but also from a disturbing number of women in the sex industry. They’re defending Deen because Stoya accused him on Twitter.

Over the last two weeks, I have had a lot of conversations with people who say things like Deen is being tried in the court of social media. His professional reputation is ruined because he can’t prove himself innocent. None of them made a police report at the time, so how do we know it was REALLY rape? You can’t accuse someone of a crime without proof! There was a nearly constant thread of “innocent until proven guilty.”

But no one has filed criminal charges against Deen. He has exactly the same access to social media as his accusers do, he can talk to the reporters of his choice, and he has an agent and a lawyer to advise him. In my opinion, James Deen is not being victimized by the women who are saying he has harmed them.

When you say, “If it was rape, why didn’t you go the police?” here’s what it really means: If you don’t go to the police, you’re not allowed to talk about your sexual assault. Rape is like a ticket in a parking garage, apparently—if you didn’t get it validated by the powers that be, you will pay for that later. This is a silencing tactic, nothing more. No one spewing about “due process” to a sex worker who’s been assaulted until her ass needs stitches actually gives a shit about the sanctity of law.

And the law certainly does not give a shit about sex workers.

I have a lot of power and privilege for a sex worker, and still I can’t imagine going to the police if I were raped. To a sex worker, police are as likely to be the problem as they are to protect you from one. Take Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, for example, who’s on trial for sexually assaulting 13 black women, many of whom had been sex workers. We’re supposed to get a rape-note stamp of approval from that guy?

Another gut-churning lesson on how sex workers fare in courtrooms is the case of Christy Mack, a nude model, dancer, and porn performer who was the victim of a horrifically violent attempted rape by her ex-partner, MMA fighter War Machine. Last year, War Machine, aka Jonathan Koppenhaver, allegedly entered her Las Vegas house, assaulted a friend of Mack’s who was also present, and then beat Mack so savagely that she suffered 18 broken bones, missing teeth, and a ruptured liver.

Koppenhaver was arrested and is now facing trial on 34 felony charges, including attempted murder. His defense? Since Mack was a sex worker, she enjoyed the attack. Koppenhaver’s defense lawyer, Brandon Sua, said in court that Mack’s career shows she had a “desire, the preference, the acceptability toward a particular form of sex activities that were outside of the norm.” Koppenhaver laughed openly when Mack testified in court, and at another point blew a kiss at the prosecuting attorney.

Even if Koppenhaver is convicted, it’s a stark reminder of what every sex worker learns: For us, there is no due process, no unbiased hearing. When it first became known that police were seeking War Machine for the assault, MMA fans on social media vilified Christy Mack as (of course) a lying whore. Then she tweeted pictures of herself in the hospital with shocking injuries, and public sympathy shifted considerably (if not completely) in her favor.

In the case of Deen, Stoya’s high social-media visibility is part of what made it safe for her to speak. Other women joined her, and their supporters made the hashtags #standwithstoya and #solidaritywithstoya go viral. If our suffering is plain, or our numbers many, then the court of public opinion is a place where sex workers may have a chance of prevailing.

James Deen is a porn brand whose stock has dropped. Doubtless that stings, but Deen is not headed to court and he’s not headed to jail, so the frenzied cries of “twitter lynch mobs” are absurd. It’s too soon even to say for sure his porn career is finished; other pop-culture heroes have recovered from sexual-assault accusations. Although really, if Deen truly can’t tell when he’s crossed over someone’s boundaries, is he really a guy who should be employed pushing them?

Moral questions about Deen’s behavior aside, it’s simply his job to have the consent of his scene partners, the professional trust of his producers, and the admiration of his fans. If he loses that? Then he loses his livelihood. That’s how fame works: You must cater to “the court of public opinion,” or the public will have no use for you.

Stoya punched a hole in the wall of silence about sexual assault against sex workers, as did all the women who joined her, and I’m grateful. You may decry the court of public opinion, but until sex workers are given equality before the law, we will use it, because it’s the only one open to us. recommended

Complete Article HERE!

“That’s ICKY!”

Name: Marti
Gender: female
Age: 27
Location: Seattle
Is there such a thing as an asexual? The reason I ask is that I think I am one. I’m happy and well adjusted, but sex does nothing for me. I can’t orgasm. My genitals are icky. My marriage seems fine. I love my husband; we share the same values. And even if there’s nothing in it for me, I’m apparently pretty good at fellatio. We don’t do intercourse. Is this normal for some people? Are some people simply not wired to be sexual? I have no problems with love. I’m passionate about my husband and my friends, but it’s more of a cerebral thing.

Yeah, Marti, I do believe there is such a thing as an asexual. But I don’t think you’re one. Ya know why I say that? It’s because an asexual has an indifference toward sex. You, dear lady, exhibit disgust toward sex and things sexual…including your very own pussy. And that tells me you have an aversion to sex, which is completely different from what an asexual feels about sex.

frustrationI’d also have to challenge you on your statement that you are happy and well adjusted. I just don’t buy it, darlin’! And here’s a tip, if you have to go out of your way to tell someone you are happy and well adjusted, you’re probably neither.

In my estimation, a young married, albeit preorgasmic, woman who denies her hubby the old in and out, but begrudgingly blows him when absolutely necessary is NOT happy or well adjusted. SORRY! I don’t fault you for this, mind you. It’s just that since you have never known the joys of sex, you can hardly dismiss them as unimportant.

If we had access to your long-suffering husband I think he would tell a different tale than you, Miss Marti. I’ll betcha he’s withering on the vine for lack of nookie — the odd semi-obligatory blowjob he gets doled out to him on occasion not withstanding.

Listen darling, you got issues…big fuckin’ issues that need to be addressed ASAP. Don’t go trying to cover your shit with a happy face like asexuality. You’ll give all those real sexual ascetics a bad name if ya do.

Begin by resolving your anorgasmia, or as other call it preorgasmia. Because that, my dear, is the root of your sexual aversion. Work with a qualified sex-positive therapist. Learn to masturbate in a way that will bring you sexual satisfaction. Once you and your trusty vibrator slams yourself your first screamin’ meme of an orgasm, I believe you will change your tune about the rest of sex and your much maligned pussy too. I’ve written on this topic a lot.  Use the search function in the sidebar, search for “preorgasmic,” and you’ll find it all.  My posting:  Hey, Where’s My Big “O”?, is one fine example.

We can only hope that your deprived spousal unit will stick around during this remedial period. But you’re gonna have to level with him. Tell him you’ve finally accepted the fact that you have a problem that you need to get to the bottom of it, so to speak. With his help and support and that of your therapist, you’ll find your way to real happiness and being an authentically well-adjusted person, not just someone who says she is.shade

Anything short of this kind of honesty will continue to rob your husband of the full-fledged sex life he ought to be enjoying with you his wife. If ya don’t you can be sure ‘ole hubby will find his satisfaction in a more welcoming pussy than yours…if he hasn’t already.

Good luck

An Instructional Guide to Kinks, Fetishes, and the World of BDSM

dyson

This is a guide to various kinks and fetishes that are found in the world of sex. They can be used in your roleplay as your characters turn on’s and turn off’s, or a secret that they have. Or maybe it is something to has shaped them. I have not only discovered various ones and experimented with them personally, but have had exposure to them. Master/Slave RP’s are taking off and I am one of few who will touch on the subject. There is a lot of fear in this world because things can go very VERY wrong very fast. How do I know? I have been there. I have been the observer and the recipient of things going wrong. So this is to help you know and learn about the basics. I will go over some fetishes that are often blown out of proportion and also explain the dynamic of a Dom/sub and Master/slave relationship. I do not claim to be an expert. This is just what I have learned and absorbed from being in the scene for several years.

Now first off this isn’t a way to say “I can do this to someone without asking first” DO NOT EVER DO THAT! No one asks you to do something to them unless they have given you verbal or written permission (That is witnessed) to do the things I will discuss. It is never EVER okay to do this to a man or a woman and anyone who says otherwise has not be in the position where their no’s are not listened.

Kinks are defined as socially acceptable forms of fetishism’s. Where as Fetish is something you worship, fantasize over completely. Both of these are found in the overlapping work of BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism). They can vary to the smallest things to the biggest, weirdest things you would ever think of. Almost every town around the world has a community of people who participate in these various acts. The community often meets to talk, hangout and have coffee and throw events for their members. These events include play parties, classes and munches (hanging out in a vanilla setting – vanilla being normal).

The first rule in the community of BDSM, Kink and Fetish is Consent. No matter what it is. You consent with your fellow party(ies) about what is occurring because everything needs to be Safe, Sane and Consensual. You need to establish the basics of what is going to happen, what your limits are (Both soft – so what you aren’t to keen on trying but if you trust your partner enough, you will do it – and hard – so no way in hell you are doing that). You need to establish a signal, be it verbal or physical, to indicate when you need it to stop or change. Often the word Yellow and Red are used and for physical signals, number of blinks or a hand gesture. And you need to express when you do not feel comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable with what is going to be done to you or that you are going to do YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO SAY NO!

That being said! Let us start.

There are many different kinks and fetishes that can be found in the world. These can include simple ones of being tied up, blindfolds, feathers, women (or men) wearing heels, eating food off of one another, biting, hair pulling, uniforms, long hair (or short hair)… the list is long because in truth there are many and I am not going to list them all. Then there are the more complex, more intense ones. These include needle play, CBT, cupping, impact play (This includes paddles, whips, floggers, hair brushes, hands, wooden spoons, canes and any other instrument you can spank with), chastity devices, latex, gagging… again the lists are long.

Impact Play

Impact Play

Impact Play:

  • Impact Play is the use of a hard (or soft) object by the top to strike the bottom repetitively.
  • Instruments that can be used in Impact Play include: Flogger, Cane, Paddle, Whip, Riding Crop, Wooden Spoon, belt, hair brush, hand, etc.
  • Impact play usually occurs on the buttocks and thighs. It is often advised to not strike anywhere that isn’t cushioned with fat. This includes the kidney area, neck, tailbone, hipbones, head and all joints.
  • When using whips, one has to be careful to avoid a wrap around effect. This is when it coils around an appendage and can either cause excessive pain or something more horrible.

 

Sensory Play

Sensory Play

Sensory Play:

  • Sensory Play is limiting one sense to enhance the other senses.
  • Sensory Play includes blind folds, ear muffs/plugs, large boxes over the head, wax, feathers, ice, silk, and anything else that plays with the senses.
  • These can be used often without much worry, though wax can cause burns ans pain at the same time. Sensory play always involves signals, either verbal or physical and the top must respect when the bottom says stop (or red).

 

Restraining:

  • Restraining in kink and BDSM is restricting a limb(s) from movement or use. This includes the arms, feet, legs, hands, neck and whole body if desired.

    bondage003.jpg

    Bondage

  • Items often used in restraining include rope, duct tape, packing tape, industrial roles of saran wrap, vacuum bags, spreaders, chains, bondage tape, ties, long pieces of fabric and anything that can tie have a not tied in it.
  • With rope, there are various ways to it. There is just simple knots and there is also costume style (full body binds). There is also shibari, which is a Japanese form of restraint with rope. Both forms can take loads of time to complete to create beautiful pieces on a man or woman’s body. Costume Style x Shibari Style x
  • When binding with ANYTHING you do not (And I repeat NOT) want to cut of circulation to any area. You want to be able to place two fingers comfortably in between the restraint used and the skin. If you can’t, it is to tight and will eventually lead to the discoloration of skin and numbness and blood flow begins to slow.
  • Some people enjoy having this though but it is ill advised to do because nerve damage can occur.

 

Other Kinks/Fetishes That Need to be Known and Understood:

  • There are many kinks and fetishes in the world but some are not understood as they should be. This is because the media has made them out to be worse than they are or people are not educated enough to understand them. These include: needle play, voyeurism, exhibition, humiliation, role playing (Not like what we do! I will explain…), artistic cutting.
  • Needle Play: Needle play is the use of sterile needles to do artistic works on the human body.
    Needle Play

    Needle Play

    The gauge of the needle varies to what the bottom can handle but usually a gauge between 17 and 20 is used. This is always done in a sterile environment with proper precautions taken. This includes the wearing of gloves, a bin to dispose of the used needles and something for the marks left from the needles. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of this being done to you than you have every right to deny it. Some people enjoy having needles put in to all parts of their body, literally. But you are not expected to do it. And you do not have to observe it either. But to some this is very zen.

  • Voyeurism, Exhibition and Humiliation: I am grouping these together because they often go hand and hand together. Some people do get turned on by doing things in public. Be it having a spanking, walked down the street nude and leashed or, sorry to be so blunt about it, fucked in a public place. People do enjoy this sorta of thing. To many of us this would traumatize us and you have every right to tell the Top that you will not do that.
  • Role playing: Role playing in BDSM is indeed playing out different roles, which might include: Doctor/Nurse, Priest/Nun, Teacher/Student, Doctor/Patient, Guard/Prisoner… really there is no limit to what can occur. This are all sorts of creations that people come up with and it is always between two consenting adults.
  • Artistic Cutting: This is in shape, form or way the same as cutting that people do when they are depressed or that. This is done with a sterile razor or scalpel that is disposed of after and done to create a design drawn out and planned. It tends to permanent so it takes a lot of for thought and decision to do before hand. The top has to take plenty of care not to cut to deep in to the skin in order to keep the nerves and veins safe. It is a very delicate process and, once again, you do not have to do it if you do not feel safe doing it.

Relationship Dynamics:

  • There are various relationship dynamics that can be found in BDSM, Kink, and the Fetish community. A few are as follows:Master/slave or Mistress/Slave
    Dominant/sub or Domme/sub
    Top/Bottom
    Daddy/baby-girl/boy or Mommy/baby-boy/girl
    Owner/pet (This can be a puppy, kitten, pony or whatever else one desires.)
  • All relationships have a contract. This states what the sub/slave/bottom/baby-girl/boy will do and have done to them. But it also stipulates what the Dom/Domme/Master/Mistress/Mommy/Daddy/Top will do for the sub/slave/bottom/baby-girl/boy. Some examples of what would be include in a contract is limits, comfort time, expectations from both sides (weight lose for health, outfits, curfews, etc), safety regulations, etc. Anything to ensure the safety, sanity and respect of BOTH parties is put in to the contracts.
  • Also you will note that I have capitalized the Dominant role and lower case for the submissive
    full out collar

    full out collar

    necklace

    necklace

    role. I don’t know exactly why this is done but in my humble opinion it is because the Dominant role is in charge and has the sense of power while the submissive role is lacking power and has given up control to the Dominant role.

  • Master(Mistress)/slave: This is the most strict relationship that a relationship in the BDSM world has. The Master or Mistress has complete control over what occurs in the slaves life – what is eaten, when and where they sleep, who they see and how often they see these people, where and how money is spent and even chores. Often these relationships are long standing and result in marriage or partnership. The slave however is not the only one who makes a commitment in this relationship. The Master or Mistress agrees to take care of the slave, to help them and comfort them if need be and to protect them. A slave is always wearing a collar. They can be a full out collar, a slim collar, a necklace, a bracelet, or a ring. The giving of one of these items is a very serious ordeal and is often done in a ceremony with friends from the community they are in. The slave wears their collar (or other piece of jewelry that claims they are a slave) 24/7. The also may have multiple collars – one to wear in public, one to be worn at home and one to be worn in play, with a combination of any of these three. They rarely remove it – only if they are showering and the collar is made of leather or if they are changing from an informal one to a formal one.
  • Dom(Domme)/sub: This is the most common relationship dynamic found in the BDSM
    kitty play

    Kitty Play

    puppy play

    Puppy Play

    community from what I have seen. It is similar to a Master/slave relationship but they are not as strict and direct. They also have a contract drawn up with expectations from both sides as well as what the limits are for the submissive. A sub can receive a collar similar to what a slave receives but they are not obligated to wear it all the time. It is only worn in play or at home usually. However, some Doms may seem like they are more of the Master type as they are firm and hard with their submissive and they refer to themselves as a Dom. It is because of how they are in play and not how they come off. Even the hardest man (or woman) may be a sub in truth.

  • Top/bottom: This is the center and general names for people who play. Not every Dom is a Top and not every sub is a bottom. These are merely the positions that are taken in play.
  • The top being the one who does things to the bottom, which usually is involved in any type of play that is done. The Top ensures that all things are safe throughout the entire play session. They are to check on the bottom to ensure that they are okay, that they want to continue on, to ask if they want to take it a step further and to comfort them at the end of the session. The bottom is to tell the top how they feel throughout the whole think. If the bottom at any point wishes to stop and says so by speaking the safe word, than the top must comply. There is no ifs, ands or buts. THE TOP WILL STOP WHEN THE BOTTOM SAYS RED OR WHATEVER SAFE WORD HAS BEEN DESIGNATED TO STOP. The bottom in a sense does have complete control over the session because if they can not do anymore than that is it. The top DOES NOT continue after the safe word is said.

    Pony Play

    Pony Play

  • Daddy/baby-girl/boy or Mommy/baby-boy/girl: This is a softer approach to a BDSM relationship. There is often a lot of cuddling and softer things than what you would find in a Dom/sub relationship. The baby-girl/boy does have expectation to and doesn’t have to wear a collar unless they desire to. It is just a softer dynamic and is in no way related to incest. This is two adults who consent to these roles.
  • Petplay: Petplay involves the taking on an appearance of an animal. The most common ones being puppy, kitty and pony. The animal often has a human owner but in puppy and kitty play, it is possible for both people in the relationship to be the animal, but there is one who is an Alpha. So they take on the Dominant role. There is the costumes and accessories for this sorta of thing available for purchase or you can make your own items.

“But you may ask; why not? I am the Top. The Dom. A true Master.” Really? Cram it! And if I hear you say that again I will take a book to your head to beat some sense in to you! There is no true Master or true Dom. Safety is key and if you can not respect that then you should be reprimanded by everyone and anyone. No matter the dynamic, you take care of one another because that is what a good relationship does. Nurture the relationship and let this guide aid you in creating a good SAFE dynamic between you and others.

If anyone wishes for me to expand on anything, just ask. Maybe I will do a guide with just one thing or another. This is just a summery.

Complete Article HERE!

LELO Pleasure Object Giveaway

Hey sex fans!

Just in time for the holidays! Dr Dick and LELO are teaming up for this amazing giveaway.

  • Allow us to introduce you to LILY™ 2.

    LILY 2

  • See how it’s made HERE!

A Satisfying Treat for all the Senses

A choice of fresh, romantic scents based on common aphrodisiacs and relaxing notes for a spellbinding and all-encompassing experience.

100% Waterproof And USB-Rechargeable

Offers 4 hours of satisfying pleasure from a single 2-hour charge, and fully submersible for the bath or shower.

Sophisticated Luxury for Solo or Partnered Play

Perfectly formed to fit in your palm, LILY™ 2’s silky surface can be used externally to stimulate all of your erogenous zones.

LELO_Packaging_Shot_LILY_2_Plum_0There is a sexy, sensual ritual to opening a LELO box: it’s a celebration of pleasure, the ultimate expression of indulgence and excitement. Share it wisely, often, and with care.

  • LILY™ 2
  • USB-Charging Cord
  • Satin Storage Pouch
  • Warranty Registration Card
  • Detailed Instruction Manual

NOW FOR THE DETAILS…

The giveaway will be a raffle. There are three ways to enter.
RETWEET this giveaway announcement on Twitter.
REPOST this giveaway announcement on Facebook.
Or
SEND an email to dr_dick@drdicksexadvice.com with LELO GIVEAWAY in the subject line.

Only one submission per person, PLEASE!

The winner will be chosen on 12/16/15. I will contact you directly and request your shipping address. You’ll have your LILY™ 2 by Christmas.

happy_holidays_colorful

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Survivors of 1980s AIDS crisis reveal what happened to them

In Honor of World AIDS Day

AIDS3

From the role of lesbians to the vanishing of whole neighborhoods, real LGBTI people share their experiences

by Joe Morgan

Survivors of the 1980s AIDS crisis have shared accounts of their experiences.

As the UK celebrates LGBT History Month, users of Reddit revealed what it was like to be living in what felt like a constant state of tragedy.

Real LGBTI people remember the confusion, the lack of information, the lack of support from the government because of the suffering from the virus known only at the time as GRID (gay-related immune deficiency).

‘I’m a 62-year-old gay man. I thankfully made it through the epidemic that started in the early 80s and went right through the mid-90’s. You ask what it was like? I don’t know if I can even begin to tell you how many ways AIDS has affected my life, even though I never caught the virus,’ one user said.

‘By the early 80s, I had what I would consider a really large circle of friends and acquaintances and once the epidemic really started to hit, it was not uncommon to find out three, four or more people you knew had died each month. We set up informal and formal support groups to look after our friends who took sick. Feeding them when they would eat. Changing them. Washing them. Acting as go-between with families who “were concerned” about their sons, nephews, brothers, etc., but wouldn’t lend a hand to help because AIDS was, you know, icky.

‘After they passed, there were memorial services to plan with no real time to grieve because when one passed, you were needed somewhere else to begin the process all over again.

‘I kept a memory book/photo album of everyone I knew that died of AIDS. It’s quite large to say the least. Who were these guys? These were the people I had planned to grow old with. They were the family I had created and wanted to spend the rest of my life with as long as humanly possible but by the time I was in my late 40s, every one of them was gone except for two dear friends of mine.

‘All we have left of those days are each other, our memories and pictures. I hope that statement doesn’t come off as pitiful though. I am fit, active, healthy and you know what? I enjoy every single day of my life. I enjoy it because most of my friends can’t. In my own personal way, I want to honor their lives by living and enjoying mine.’

AIDS

Another user said: ‘It was flat out scary. every guy you met was like a possible time bomb. especially the early period when we knew very little about it – didn’t know if you could get it by kissing, by holding hands…

‘Then lots of your friends or friends of friends get sick and sicker and then die. And you never ever quit being really really fucking pissed off about the whole thing. I’m alive today due to sheer randomness.’

And another said: ‘If you were living in the Castro in San Francisco, everyone in the neighborhood was gay… So it wasn’t just your friends that were dying, it was your whole neighborhood. One day your mailman would be replaced, the next day that flower shop was gone… You wouldn’t be invited to the funeral, so it was just like people were disappearing.’

‘It was madness. It was terribly cruel,’ another Redditor said. ‘It was inexplicable and unexplained, for a very long time. Research was underfunded, and in many cases large institutions and public figures rooted for it to be happening. People died suddenly of unexplainable things. Toe fungus! Tongue thrush! Rashes. Eyes welling up with blood. Horrible shit.

‘Everyone knew it was hitting gay men, nobody knew what it was. They called it the gay cancer. People were very superstitious. I had handfuls of groceries and man lectured me on not pressing the elevator buttons with my nose because I could catch AIDS from it. Yes. That happened.’

A lesbian of the era said: ‘While I was not ‘at risk’ (per se, we know more these days), we all lost many good friends. It is true that there is a somewhat mystifying (to me) separatist attitude between some gay men and lesbians, especially back then, this tragic time really brought us together.

‘Sitting at the bedside of a terminally ill friend, and just holding their hand when everyone else was just terrified, was a gift I was one of those willing to give.

‘No one should die alone, and no one should be in the hospital on their death beds with family calling to say “this was gods punishment”. My friends and I, men and women, acted as a protective layer for ill friends, and companion to mutual friends juggling the same, difficult reality of trying to be there, and be strong when we were losing our family right and left. Difficult times, that should never be forgotten.’

AIDS2

Another Redditor paid tribute to the role of lesbians, calling them ‘every bit as heroic as soldiers on the front lines of any war’.

‘These women walked directly into the fire and through it, and they did not have to. And that they did it even as some of the gay men they took care of treated them with bitchiness, scorn, and contempt.

‘It was, at the time, not at all unusual for gay men to snicker as the bull dyke walked into the bar with her overalls and flannels and fades. Much of the time, it was casual ribbing which they took in stride. But it could also be laced with acid, especially when lesbians began gravitating toward a bar that had until then catered largely to men.

‘When the AIDS crisis struck, it would be many of these same women who would go straight from their jobs during the day to acting as caregivers at night. Because most of them lacked medical degrees, they were generally relegated to the most unpleasant tasks: wiping up puke and shit, cleaning up houses and apartments neglected for weeks and months. But not being directly responsible for medical care also made them the most convenient targets for the devastating anger and rage these men felt – many who’d been abandoned by their own family and friends.

‘These women walked directly into the fire. They came to the aid of gay men even when it was unclear how easily the virus could be transmitted. Transmission via needlestick was still a concern, so they often wore two or three layers of latex gloves to protect themselves, but more than once I saw them, in their haste and frustration, dispense with the gloves so that they could check for fevers, or hold a hand that hung listlessly from the edge of a bed whose sheets they had just laundered.

‘They provided aid, comfort, and medical care to men withering away in hospices, men who’d already lost their lovers and friends to the disease and spent their last months in agony. They’d been abandoned by their own families, and were it not for lesbians – many if not most of them volunteers – they would have suffered alone. And when there was nothing more medicine could do for them and their lungs began to fill with fluid, it was often these same women who’d be left to administer enough morphine to release them, given to them by the doctor who had left the room and would return 15 minutes later to sign the certificate (a common practice at the time).

‘I knew a woman around that time who’d had at one point been making bank in construction. But at the outset of the AIDS crisis she had abandoned her career to pursue nursing instead, and was close to her degree when we were hanging out. She was a big, hearty drinker, and fortunately so was I. We’d been utterly thrashed at a bar once when someone whispered a fairly benign but nonetheless unwelcoming comment about her. Middle fingers were exchanged, and afterwards, furious and indignant, I asked her, Why do you do it? Why did you abandon a career to take care of these assholes who still won’t pay you any respect?

‘She cut me a surprisingly severe look, held it and said, “Honey, because no one else is going to do it.” I remember feeling ashamed after that, because my fury and indignation weren’t going to clean blood and puke off the floor; it wasn’t going to do the shit that needed to get done.

‘HIV killed my friends, took my lover from me, and tore up my life. During that time, I did what I could. But nothing I did then or have ever been called to do in my life puts me anywhere near the example set by the lesbians I knew in the 80s and 90s. I’ve felt obligated to remember what they did, and to make sure other people remember it too.’

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